The concept behind Metal: Hellsinger is simple enough: marry the classic shooter gunplay of DOOM with a rhythm game. And developer The Outsiders absolutely nail this element of its game: the gunplay feels fantastic. Shooting, dodging, cycling weapons, it all feels great. You can do just about everything in the game to the rhythm of each level’s song, and you get bonus points, as well as bonus damage, for keeping in time to the music.
All of the music has a distinct drum beat that is easy to keep track of while in the heat of battle, and each level features a guest vocalist from some pretty famous bands, such as Trivium and System of a Down. The songs start with basic drum beats, adding layers of vocals, guitars, and so on as your combo meter goes up. It’s a really nice touch, and the implementation is seamless. The music is the real star, as the threadbare narrative is tucked into bland cutscenes that bookend each level.
The cracks start to show up when you look beyond the core gameplay. The title doesn’t do anything poorly per se, but everything comes across as barebones. The environments across all eight levels blur together and have similar colour grading with uninteresting level design. Each level amounts to a series of arenas connected by hallways ending in a boss, and they do little in the way to encourage creative or differing combat approaches. You can successfully beat the game with solely the shotgun if you so choose.
The encounter design practically stops evolving after the second level, only occasionally introducing variations of enemies thereafter. Many of the enemies aren’t terribly fun to fight, which is another big problem. As fun as the guns may be to use — every weapon is satisfying, and a blast to play around with — everything starts to stale quickly. Completing torments — mini-dungeons that unlock and upgrade perks — add some variety to the affair, but these are brief distractions at best. You can 100 per cent the game in about 6-7 hours, too, making the $39.99 price tag astonishingly steep.
Ultimately, you have a game with one masterfully designed core element — the rhythm gunplay — surrounded by a number of elements that, while not terrible, are mediocre at best.